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How To Start An Etsy Shop With No Money (My Strategy!)

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I have asked a good number of people, what is the main reason you have not started your own business yet. The most common answer was – Money.

You may even have guessed the answer.

Titus Maccius Plautus quotes “You must spend money to make money”. But as the internet and technology are evolving, this old quote does not hold true anymore.

In today’s era, you can make money without putting in any money. Interesting? You will be more intrigued when I share how you can do it.

It does not matter if you are a school or college-going student, a housewife, and mother of two children or a person with a 9 to 5 job.

So let’s dive into today’s article to know how to start an Etsy shop with no money. Yes, you heard that. No money!

How To Start An Etsy Shop With No Money?

Starting an online business is a dream for a number of people. The sad part is, many people are not even able to start their businesses because of the lack of money or no investment money.

But what if I tell you that you can start your own online business as an Etsy shop with no money?

It sounds exciting! Isn’t it?

But is that true or just clickbait?

As a successful Etsy seller for the past 2 years, I can say that starting an Etsy business with no money is absolutely an achievable thing.

However, it does take some time to make money on Etsy as it is not something that you can achieve overnight.

So what are you still waiting for?

Let’s make some pretty money with the help of the mentioned tips to start an Etsy shop with no money.

Choose Products That Have a Minimum To Zero Investment Cost

The greatest low-cost or no-cost products that you will list on your Etsy shop are ones that can be produced using cheap resources and/or need little to no inventory.

Using zero-investment cost products will assist you in minimizing both your initial investment (which we want to be zero) and risk.

It could be really a challenging task to begin thinking about inexpensive product ideas. Where things become hard, I make that my duty and responsibility to help you out.

Here are some ideas that I have collected specially for you on minimum to zero-cost product/niche ideas to get you started:

1. Sell Digital Products

An excellent approach to launching a small business or setting up an Etsy shop on a tight budget (or no budget!) is to sell digital items.

Sell Digital Items

Digital items are the items that can be made using a laptop or mobile can be sold in digital format like eBooks, Graphic Templates, Printable Designs, SVG’s, Resume Templates, etc.

  • Fun Fact: According to a recent research report, the global E-Book Reader Market in 2020 was approximately USD 30.69 Billion. 

    The market is expected to surge at a CAGR of 3.7% and is anticipated to surpass USD 38.17 Billion by 2026.
    (Source: Mordor Intelligence)

The best part about digital products is that they do not require any shipping, maintenance, and inventory cost.

This is due to the fact that they are digital products that you can easily create using your laptop/ PC and simple design tools like Canva or Picmonkey.

You do not need any budget or investment money to start selling digital products online or to list them on your Etsy shop.

Just pick up your iPad or turn on your computer and design something or make something that you can sell.

Popular digital items for small-scale business owners include printables such as calendars, planners’ diaries, social media templates, and T-shirt SVG designs that can be used for print-on-demand purposes.

2. Sell DIY Items (Using Recycled Material)

Think about it. There are a number of extra materials and other things always available in our houses all the time.

Sell DIY Item Using Recycled Stuff
Credit: PonyMcTate

Why don’t we use them to make our own products?

It is an excellent idea.

Yes, there is no doubt that you have to brainstorm a little to think about what you can use to make a selling-worth product.

  • Fun Fact: Total revenue for Etsy in 2022 reached $2.476B with an 11.07% increase year-over-year, proving how rapidly the handmade industry is growing on Etsy!

But it will be worth it in the end. You would not need any money because all the materials are in your house.

Plus you do not have to give product-making charges to someone else.

Consider what you have laying around the house as an excellent place to start when coming up with product ideas.

It may be leftover paint, woodworking scraps, fabric scraps, etc.

All of these are possible product concepts. For instance, the leftover fabric may be turned into cute little tops and bags, and paint and wood can be transformed into stylish home decor.

3. Make Products With Help Of Low-Cost Raw Materials

Finding the right type of raw materials for your product at a good price can be a little challenging.

But here is the trick.

Go and search around your neighborhood or in nearby areas to see if there are any stores that are affordable and sell supplies at much lower prices in comparison to other stores.

Although they may not have as many selections and varieties to choose from as other shops, they are excellent for choosing the right type of raw material without having to spend a lot of money.

You can also consider Etsy stores that sell low-cost raw materials for creating different creative items.

For eg: look at the image below, these all stores are selling raw materials for creating DIY candles at cheaper prices.

Raw Material For Candle Making

You can contact such stores and ask for more discount, i am sure if you order in bulk you will easily get extra discounts.

You can read our tips on starting an etsy shop here.

4. Obtain Supplies From Secondhand And Thrift Stores

You have certainly seen Instagram posts where someone paints a used cabinet they got from a thrift store to make it look modern, then sells it for more money.

  • Fun Fact: The popularity of thrift store shopping has also led to the rise of “thrift flipping” where people buy items at thrift stores and resell them for a profit.

By searching for prospective things in second-hand and thrift stores, you may do the same thing. You can generally alter or refurbish a lot of old kitchenware or home décor items.

Purchasing materials in this manner will be far less expensive than doing so while new.

Just remember to choose reasonably lightweight and tiny things to reduce future shipping costs.

Design Your Own Branding To Save On Graphic Designing Costs

Logo and Etsy banners are the two things that you have to add to your Etsy shop to give it a professional touch and it is important for branding as well.

When you are just starting out, logos and banners are sufficient for branding. You can do more of the branding once your sales start to increase and you start making money.

Let’s say you hire a designer to get your etsy logo and banner designed. You have to pay them hundreds to thousands of dollars.

  • Do You Know: The average cost of hiring Graphic designers in the US typically charge between $25 and $150 per hour, with an average rate of around $50/hour.
    For a full-time, in-house position, the average salary for a graphic designer in the US is around $4,500 to $7,000 per month.

Why not reduce these costs by using free tools and apps to create your own branding assets?

Canva is the best and most free (mostly!) software which you can use to make designs for your logo and banner.

Etsy shop cover templates on canva
Etsy shop cover templates on canva

As you can see there are thousands of premade templates inside canva, just search for your template let’s say “Etsy shop cover”, choose the one you like, make your customization and shape the banner according to your shop theme, save and upload to your Etsy store.

And voila! It is done.

Make Good Use Of Your Smartphone By Clicking The Product Photos

No need for any fancy expensive DSLR camera or a photographer, you can click your own product pics by just using your phone’s camera.

Using Smartphone To Click Etsy Product Pics
Using Smartphone To Click Etsy Product Pics

It is certain that your Etsy shop will have to have your product photos. Buying an expensive camera to click the photos or hiring someone to click photos of your product can be really expensive.

Save money by clicking the photos of the products with your own phone camera.

Phones nowadays have really great cameras and believe me they are more than enough to click good quality product photos.

Just place your product on a flat surface or table with a solid color (make sure the background is not too busy and colorful).

Make sure that natural light is falling on your whole or half product.

Now click on some amazing photos of your product. It is that easy!

Play with lighting and background to capture some best shots of your product to be listed. You can use cloth and paper to make different backgrounds.

Use Free Photo Editing Tools

When you’re starting an Etsy store, it’s important to make sure your product photos look their best. After all, they’re the first thing potential customers will see, and you want to make a good impression.

There are a number of free tools you can use to edit your product photos. One of my favorites is Adobe Lightroom .

Lightroom is a powerful photo editing app/software that offers a wide range of features, including basic adjustments like brightness and contrast, as well as more advanced features like color correction and noise reduction.

And the best thing is, it is available on all platforms including Mac, Windows, IOS, and Android.

Adobe lightroom Editing
Adobe lightroom Editing

I’ve been using Lightroom for years to edit my product photos, and I’ve found it to be a great tool for getting the results I want.

It’s easy to use, even for beginners, and it offers a variety of features. I can make subtle adjustments to my photos to improve their overall look, or I can go in and make more dramatic changes.

If you are wondering what a lightroom can do then look at the before and after pic that i edited using Lightroom.

lightroom before and after
lightroom before and after

If you’re looking for a free tool to edit your product photos, I highly recommend Adobe Lightroom. It’s a great way to get your photos looking their best without spending a penny.

Another tool you may use (and will definitely love) to edit and enhance your product photos is Canva. Even the free version of Canva includes good picture editing features.

Editing your own photos rather than hiring someone to edit for you will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Use Free SEO Tools For Your Etsy Store

When it comes to starting an Etsy store with limited funds, you need to make every effort count, including optimizing your shop for search engines.

While investing in paid SEO tools can be beneficial, there are also free options available that can give your Etsy store a competitive edge without breaking the bank.

One freemium tool that I personally use and highly recommend is eRank. (You can find it at erank.com). This handy platform provides a range of SEO features tailored specifically for Etsy sellers. I’ve found it to be an amazing tool for improving the visibility of my products within the Etsy search.

Try eRank

Start Your Free Trial

  • Find Low Competitive Keywords
  • Find Hot Selling Products
  • Track Competitor’s Sales, Tags, Listings, etc

Affiliate link, if you want to support me, you can signup using this link, it will earn me some commission without any extra cost to you.

eRank offers valuable insights into keyword research and analysis. It helps you identify the most relevant and high-ranking keywords for your product listings, which is crucial for attracting the right audience to your store.

By understanding what customers are searching for, you can optimize your listings with these keywords and increase your chances of appearing in search results.

Additionally, eRank provides helpful tools to analyze your shop’s performance, such as tracking your shop’s views, favorites, and sales.

These metrics can give you a better understanding of how your products are performing and help you make data-driven decisions to improve your Etsy store’s overall success.

So eRank my friend, i have talked more about this in my eRank for Etsy post, you can read it.

Use Handwritten Thank You Notes

When I open my parcel and find a handwritten thank you note or even a printed card with my name, it just makes my day.

  • Fun Fact: According to a survey, customers who received a thank-you note from a business were 3.5 times more likely to return than those who did not.

You are a beginner Etsy shop owner and do not have many sale’s happening. This means you have plenty of time to write thank you notes for all of your orders.

Handmade Thankyou Note
Handmade Thankyou Note

Writing thank-you notes adds a personal touch to the orders and trust me (speaking from my own experience) people love it.

You can level up the game of your thank you cards by addressing the customer’s first name. Write quirky, funny notes which make your customer share them on their social media profiles.

Free branding? Yes.

Handwritten thank you notes even on simple paper not only save on the printed thank you card cost but it helps you to build a loyal audience who will return to buy more products.

And who knows handwritten thank you notes could even be the reason you get your five-star review?

FAQ on How to Start an Etsy Shop With No Money

Here are some frequently asked questions:

Is it worth it to sell on Etsy?

Selling on Etsy is worthwhile because it is one of the quickest, least expensive, and easiest methods to get your handmade goods online and are connected to a shopping cart feature.

In comparison to creating a website, it is also a low-risk choice. You may list multiple things for just a few dollars, create a professional-looking online store in a couple of hours, and avoid paying domain and hosting expenses.

However, there are high chance that you won’t be able to instantly gain from Etsy’s consumers.

But your existing customers on different platforms will have a method to shop and buy from you right away.

Who pays for Shipping Costs on Etsy?

The majority of the time, customers pay for delivery because it is included in the product’s price.

The majority of Etsy stores add a separate, additional shipping fee to the cost of the product.

A new modification in the Etsy search algorithm, however, gives free shipping guarantees for goods that ship to the US and cost above US$35 a boost in search ranking.

As a result, many Etsy stores provide free delivery of their goods. However, sellers usually include the cost of shipping into the product price.

Even though it may appear that the seller is covering the cost of shipping, the Etsy customer is ultimately responsible for this cost. 

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it! Starting an Etsy store with no money is definitely possible. Just follow these key points and you’ll be on your way to building a successful Etsy business.

Of course, there are no guarantees that you’ll make a lot of money right away. But if you’re passionate about your products and you’re willing to put in the work, you can definitely make a living selling on Etsy.

Got any questions? drop them down in the comment section below!

Happy earning!

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